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Hard-hit ecommerce sectors see some relief as sales fluctuations moderate


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Retail sectors that had been hard-hit by coronavirus-caused stay-at-home orders and the pall of the pandemic saw some relief in the week just ended, sales data from Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse shows.

Both the Luxury Goods and the Beauty & Cosmetics categories had strong weeks — ranking No.1 and No. 2 in sales increases. That’s after suffering in the early days of the shut-down as consumers focused more on need-to-have than want-to-have purchases.

Beauty & Cosmetics sales were up 32%, following up on last week’s 29% increase in sales. The category has now seen a 24% sales boost overall since the end of February. Just two weeks ago the category was down 30% for the period stretching back to just before the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other categories that took their lumps in the early weeks of the pandemic also showed signs — or continued signs — of recovery. Fashion, Apparel & Luggage notched its third-straight week of growth, up 11%, for instance.

Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements (down 10%) and Consumer Packaged Goods (down 15%) suffered the most in the week just ended. Most of what is sold in the medical category, of course, is not COVID-19 related. As for Packaged Goods, the decline is likely a natural pull back after a spate of panic buying of products like toilet paper and paper towels.

Beyond the big weeks for Luxury Goods and Beauty & Cosmetics, and good news for some other categories, the seven-day period showed continued strength in ecommerce spending overall. Sales were up 18% since the last week of February. That week serves as a benchmark of sorts, as it was the week before shelter-at-home policies started rolling out in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Along with solid growth, the overall trend was a continuing move toward homeostasis. The majority of categories moved up or down by percentages in the single or low double digits. Some categories that had seen monstrous growth weeks returned to earth.

The trend toward shopping that looks a little more normal began to surface last week with fewer categories swinging wildly in either direction. It’s a trend that makes sense. Living, working, learning, recreating, worshipping etc., at home is what we do now. Consumers are finding their footing. They’re building routines. They’ve acquired the new and different things that they need for a new and different lifestyle.

But many are acquiring those things in ways they haven’t before — by shopping almost exclusively online while all but essential retailers have closed their brick-and-mortar stores. And all of it plays out in the flattening volatility of ecommerce transactions.

Leisure & Outdoor, which is up 112% since Pulse tracking started, was up just 3% for the week. Grocery & Household Goods, which not surprisingly saw a triple-digit-growth week as news of stay-at-home orders circulated, was down 5% the most recent week. Despite the loss, the category is up 32% for the full period. And Baby Products, which also had a triple-digit week early on, finished the most recent week up 7%.

Even subcategories that had experienced periods of 70% growth during the stay-at-home orders, moderated during the most recent week. The Media, Toys, Hobbies & Games category was up 3%, after hitting 70% growth the week the first statewide stay-at-home orders were announced. Weapons & Accessories sales declined 4% after increasing 69% three weeks ago. And Adult Toys & Novelty sales dropped 5%, after seeing a 70% increase last week.

While this week’s story appears to be one of rebalancing shopping preferences, buying in the era of COVID-19 has been anything but predictable. It will be interesting to see what the next week brings. And having that additional week’s worth of data will give us that much clearer a picture of where we’re headed.

Mike Cassidy

Mike is lead storyteller at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.